Frog Docents

The foothill yellow-legged frog, Rana boylii, is native to parts of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed and is listed as both a federal and state species of special concern, which means its population is declining. The foothill yellow-legged frog has disappeared from more than 45% of its historic range in Oregon and California due to:

  • Habitat loss and degradation
  • Disease
  • Introduction of exotic predators
MMWD needs help from the community to stop the decline and help restore a healthy population within the watershed. Each year, we train docents to monitor habitat conditions and to educate hikers at Little Carson Falls, a popular hiking destination located about five miles outside of Fairfax, and a breeding area for the foothill yellow-legged frog. Docents monitor the falls between March and June each year, when the eggs and tadpoles are at their most vulnerable.

Frog Docent Role

Volunteer docents are asked to commit to three four-hour shifts between February and June. No previous experience or special knowledge is required. Frog docents must be at least 18 years old and capable of strenuous hiking.

Becoming a frog docent is a great way to get outdoors, have an extraordinary volunteer experience, and contribute to public understanding and protection of this native species. Yearly training is offered in early spring.

2016 Season Summary

This spring 13 docents (5 new and 8 returning) spent a total of 226.5 hours volunteering at the falls. Out of 56 possible weekend shifts, 63% were covered. During this time, docents observed 1,636 visitors and over 150 dogs. Over the 12-week timeframe, docents were able to share information on the FYLF with 1,393 of the 1,636 visitors they encountered. 

Over the years, the Frog Docent Program has enjoyed great success. The Frog Docent Program began in 2005. In the past twelve seasons docents have volunteered over 2,500 hours at the falls. Through their efforts, 6,156 hikers have been informed about the vulnerability of frogs and their habitat at Little Carson Falls.

We owe a great deal of thanks to our passionate and dedicated volunteers, past and present. Without them, the welfare of the frogs and their habitat would be in great jeopardy and many visitors would have come to enjoy the falls, but not known that they could have been harming this critical and sensitive habitat. 

We are immensely appreciative of our 2016 docents: Maria Melendez-Martinez, Cindi Darling, Peter Suri, Frederic Leist, Sari Kwan, Janet Bodle, Lorri Gong, Lindsey Going, Jim Garlock, Rich Cimino, Harold Hirsch, Rob Ruiz, Bill Bain, James Fair, and our youngest docent in history, Ethan Fair. Thanks to all of you for your time and support!

Your efforts have ensured that future generations, both amphibian and human alike, will continue to flourish.

View the full report prepared by AmeriCorps Watershed Steward Elizabeth Ruiz: Frog Docent Season Summary 2016.